NEW YORK - The terrorist attack on Sri Lanka's team in Lahore shattered the belief that crickets popularity in South Asia protected it from terrorism, a leading U.S. newspaper said Wednesday in a review of cricket activities around the world in 2009. "The attack underlined a much unhappier truth, that the prominence of the game and importance of teams as national symbols might make them targets," The New York Times said of the shooting in which six policemen and two civilians were killed. "It sentenced Pakistan to a fresh period of purdah as an international venue," correspondent Huw Richards wrote in the newspaper, which generally shows only limited interest in covering the game. "It was somehow characteristic that its players responded with a vibrant, moving, ever-more-irresistible campaign to take the years main prize the World Twenty20 within a couple of months, and still more typical that Younis Khan, whose inspiring captaincy played such a part in that triumph, should have been forced from office before the end of the year." The article said, "When cricket administrators were not worrying about security they were preoccupied by fears that the Twenty20 format, still an infant, might strangle other forms of the game. "Those concerns merged when the lucratively glitzy Indian Premier League was forced offshore to South Africa for its second season because of security fears because it would have coincided with an Indian election. "The I.P.L. survived the experience. With the demise of the rival Indian Cricket League and the U.S. indictment for fraud of financier Allen Stanford, who was funding a competition in the West Indies, it now has no real rival. "If the five-day test format is under threat, it is not going without a considerable fight. "The last week alone has seen two matches Australias narrow defeat of the much-improved West Indies at Perth and Englands desperate and ultimately successful battle for a draw against South Africa at Centurion among a number this year that epitomized the unmatched capacity of the five-day game to generate multiple shifts in mood and fortune, along with a sustained ratcheting up of tension. "Englands resistance, literally down to the last man, precisely echoed its effort earlier in the year at Cardiff, opening act of an Ashes contest with Australia that underlined the parallel virtues of still more threatened species, the five-test series. "Australia produced arguably the test performance of 2009, winning in South Africa to take immediate revenge for a series it had lost at home to the Proteas. It won the years second international prize, the Champions Trophy. Yet defeat in the Ashes ended its long leadership of the world rankings. It gave way to South Africa, which was deposed in turn by India in early December. "That succession reflected a year in which the prizes were shared out. A reasonable case can be made that the Players of the Year were the Sri Lankan batsman Tillekeratne Dilshan, who scored six centuries in five-day tests and wowed the World Twenty20 with flamboyant strokeplay that included a revolutionary over-the-shoulder scoop; Shakib-al-Hasan, whose status as Bangladeshs first truly world-class player was underlined by ranking as the leading all-rounder in one-day internationals; and New Zealands phenomenal, Atlas-like captain Daniel Vettori. "If a batting average of nearly 60 from the lower order was his greatest achievement, Vettori was also part of a significant revival in finger spin, supposedly no longer a threat at test level. Vettori, Shakib, South Africas Paul Harris, Englands Graeme Swann, Australias Nathan Hauritz, Sri Lankas Rangana Herath and the vast West Indian Sulieman Benn all did better than is expected of the breed. "Benn also helped raise hopes of a still more welcome revival by the West Indies. "That team may have reached rock bottom when a contract dispute led to a replacement team playing, and losing, at home to Bangladesh. "Yet Trinidad and Tobagos vividly exuberant contribution to the Champions League, a new tournament for regional and national champions won by New South Wales, was followed by the spirited West Indies performance in Australia. "Outside the test nations, the outstanding story was Afghanistans rise through four divisions of the minor nations before it narrowly missed qualification for the 2011 World Cup. It will be no surprise if it goes one better in the new year and claims a place in the next World Twenty20. "If the prizes in the mens game were shared out, those for women were concentrated. England won both the World Cup, played in Australia, and the World Twenty20 as well as retaining the Ashes. "Claire Taylor became the first woman named as one of Wisden Cricket Almanacks five cricketers of the year. "If that was a happy arrival, regrettable departures included veteran scorer and statistician Bill Frindall and much-loved umpire David Shepherd, who both died during the year". (ENDS)/ia